November 8, 2011
One of the World's Most Significant Books
There are many myths about Maria Montessori and this book provides the reader with authentic keys to her identity. The work is based on her lectures in India when she was identified as an "enemy alien" during the second world war. Despite the fact that she was Italian (and the British Empire was at war with Italy) she was allowed to continue her teaching. Her lectures were delivered in Italian. They were translated in the lecture theatre by her son, Mario (identified until the time of her death as either her "adopted son" or her "nephew". Later she used his English notes (although her own English was described by contemporaries as "halting") into Italian. It was later re-translated into English by E.M.Standing, her devoted biographer. What few people realize is that the book was published in 1949. She died in 1952. So this is, to some extent, the latest comprehensive view of her thinking. She had a chance to review the material carefully and it represents the culmination of her lengthy scholarship. Although she was born in 1870 she continued to study within the field of child development right up until the very end of her lengthy career. The book also becomes a mine for her observations and insights. The amazing thing is that what she achieved through observation is now being substantiated by modern research. I've heard that individuals call this book "a difficult read". I would say, however, that it is one of the essential works in the field of education.
Dr. Robert Gardner, Professor Emeritus, Ryerson University.